OTTAWA (November 7, 2015) – Nicole Lyon scored the game-winning goal in the 94th minute to send the No. 6 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks through to the OUA Championship match as they defeated the No. 3 Ottawa Gee-Gees 2-1 at Matt Anthony Field on Saturday.
Lyon, a second year forward from Kitchener, Ont., gathered a loose ball in the box off a corner kick before spinning and firing the ball into the net to help the Golden Hawks complete the comeback after they fell behind 1-0 early in the second half.
“I thought everybody, right across the field played extremely well,” said head coach BARRY MACLEAN after the victory. “All of our players fought from the beginning until the end and I really do believe we were deserving winners of the game.”
In a rematch of last year’s OUA Semifinal played in Hamilton, the Golden Hawks came out determined as they looked to avenge a 1-0 extra time loss to the Gee-Gees a season ago. Just three minutes into the match, defender Pauline McCordic of North Vancouver, B.C., came in down the right wing and fired a shot that just rolled past Ottawa keeper Cynthia Leblanc’s (Granby, Que.) far post.
For the remainder of the half, however, it was the Gee-Gees who had the better opportunities to open the scoring. Their best chance came in the 35th minute when Julia Francki of Orleans, Ont., got in behind the Hawks defence. She fired a shot that was denied by Hawks rookie keeper Ashley Almeida of Burlington, Ont., and then Almeida denied OUA East MVP Pilar Khoury of Ottawa, on the rebound. That sequence of saves kept the game scoreless after 45 minutes.
Just 13 minutes into the second half, the deadlock was broken as the home team found the back of the net. Off a free kick, the ball was fired back across goal where it found the head of Faythe Lou of Surrey, B.C., who made no mistake in giving the Gee-Gees a 1-0 lead.
Despite the deficit, Laurier did not lose their edge and stepped up their game to a new level. The visitors nearly tied the game just 10 minutes later when the ball fell to Abbey Zamec of London, Ont., but her shot found the cross bar and stayed out.
With time winding down, Ottawa looked to have an opportunity to put the game out of reach when Khoury broke in down the wing but her shot towards the far post was pushed away by Almeida.
“When I saw her coming down the wing I was like, ‘okay, this is the moment, we’ve got to stop it right here and change the game right now.’”, said Almeida of the save. “So in my mind, I was thinking I’ve got to save it no matter what.”
“She has probably saved us in every single game,” commented Lyon on her keeper. “She’s been amazing. For being a first year coming in and filling those shoes, it’s crazy.“
That save proved to be crucial as just minutes later, Laurier got a bounce to go their way. After some great build up play from the purple and gold, the ball was delivered into the box for Katie Bishop of Surrey, B.C. She crossed the ball back into the middle of the pitch where it deflected off Ottawa defender Hannah Landry of Elmsdale, N.S., and into the net to tie the game at one.
Moments later, Almeida would make another save on Khoury to deny her once again, setting up a dramatic finish to the contest.
With four minutes gone in added time, the Hawks got a corner kick and pushed everyone forward into the box looking for the win. Bishop sent the ball to the back post which was headed down to Emily Brown of Waterloo, Ont. Her shot was blocked but the ball fell right to Lyon who made no mistake in beating Leblanc to give Laurier the lead.
Just seconds later, the referee blew the final whistle, sending the Golden Hawks to the gold medal match and earning them a berth at the CIS Championship next week in Vancouver.
“I think in the last five minutes of the game, they were trying to hang on and we were pushing the game,” said MacLean of the wild sequence to finish the match. “All of our players were trying to win it, they were trying not to lose and I think that was a big factor.”
Laurier will now face the Queen’s Gaels in the OUA Championship match on Sunday, November 8. It will mark the first meeting between the two rivals since 2012 when the Hawks defeated the Gaels in penalty kicks in the semifinals of the 2012 OUA Final Four tournament.
“Every Queen’s team is going to be well-coached, they’re well-organized, they’re going to be difficult to break down,” said MacLean of the Hawks opponent in the gold medal match. “We’re going to have our hands full. I think the fact that their game went to penalties works to our favour, but they played the early game which works in their favour. I think we’re confident, but we know they’re a good team.”
Game time is set for 2 p.m. at Matt Anthony Field.
Meanwhile, the Gee-Gees will face the No. 2 York Lions in the OUA Bronze Medal game which is scheduled to be played at 11 a.m.
NOTES: The Hawks goal in the 83rd minute was their first at the OUA Final Four tournament since Brown scored in the semifinal match against Ottawa back in 2011…Sunday’s final against Queen’s will mark the sixth time the two schools have battled in the OUA or CIS playoffs since 2009…Laurier has won two of those previous five meetings with four of the games going to extra time or penalty kicks